When I thought about creating this website, one of my goals was to piece together a precise history of the Chris-Craft Stingers by talking to people who were involved in bringing the boats to production. Through my research, I've interviewed the following people (so far) in this regard and would like to thank them:
Greg Boyko - Greg worked for Chris-Craft and Murray Chris-Craft from 1981-1983. At Chris-Craft, Greg worked under the direction of Don Westerman, Bob Kallotte and Les Miller. He also worked with Roy Rogers. Greg designed, drafted and prototyped decks and parts for various Chris-Craft models. Specifically, Greg was directly involved with the 186 Center Console Fishboat as well as the 265 Cruiser and Fishboat.
Todd Rafael Cimino - Quite a few Stinger owners (myself included) purchased their boats because they had seen them in the Miami Vice TV Show. Todd worked as the Marine Director for Miami Vice and has provided first hand information regarding the Stingers and how they came to be used in the show.
Ernest J. Schmidt - in the history of personal watercraft, there are those people whose names come up time and time again. One of these people is Ernest J Schmidt. Ernest co-founded Hammond Boat Company and has worked at other boat companies including Glastron and Chris-Craft. Ernest was brought on to Chris-Craft in 1979 by Dick Genth and eventually took over as president until 1986 when he left the company. Ernest has graciously helped to fill in the missing pieces of the history of the Stingers.
Jean-Claude Simon - Any history of offshore powerboat racing would not be complete without hull designer, Cary Boat Company owner, and offshore powerboat racer Jean-Claude Simon. Jean-Claude Simon's Cary 31' hull eventually wound up at Chris-Craft where it was used to produce the Stinger 312. Jean-Claude has led an exciting and illustrious life, and I greatly appreciate the time he's spent telling his stories of the early days of offshore racing.
James W Loeschen - James Loeschen worked at Chris-Craft from 1978 - 1980. James came to Chris-Craft along with Dick Genth from Wellcraft. Under the direction of Don Westerman, James was part of the team that designed the Scorpions - specifically, James worked on the 211 VF, 210 and 230 Scorpions. James also held the title of Production Engineer and helped troubleshoot the production line in the Sarasota, Florida production facility. James has been helpful in providing information regarding the sport boat lines at Chris-Craft, including information regarding the Stinger 312 predecessor, the Excalibur.
Bill Westley - Bill's father's company, Westley Industries, was bought by Chris-Craft Industries in the 1970s. Bill personally knew people in the offshore racing circuit during the 1970's and 1980's.
I'd also like to thank Powerboat magazine (www.powerboatmag.com ) for allowing me to use their photos. The May, 1984 issue helped fill in the racing history of the Stingers.
For further reading on the history of Chris-Craft Stingers:
The Legend of Chris-Craft by Jeffrey L. Rodengen - this book contains a detailed history of Chris-Craft from its beginnings to 1989. Includes a chapter dedicated to the history of the company during the 1980s which has information and pictures of Stingers.
Drug Busters by Henry Rasmussen - publish in 1987, includes a chapter on go-fast boats used by the US Customs Department. There is information and pictures of Stingers used by the US Customs Department.
Searace: A History of Offshore Powerboat Racing by John O. Crouse. Described as the bible of offshore racing. Many of the people involved with the Stingers were involved in offshore racing - this book provides a detailed history of offshore racing.
Christopher Columbus Smith and Gar Wood Chris-Craft company was originally founded by Christopher Columbus Smith in Algonac, MI. During the early 20th century, Mr. Smith was building hand-crafted, custom boats for customers - it's at this time that Mr Smith started building wooden race boats, including the Baby Speed Demon, Baby Reliance and Miss Detroit, that would win many races and earn Mr Smith a reputation for building top-notch boats.
In the 1920s, Mr Smith capitalized on the reputation he had earned by starting the Chris Smith & Sons Boat (later changed to Chris-Craft) company for building affordable, top quality boats using a mass-assembly line construction method borrowed from the auto industry. It can be said that the Chris-Craft line of boats brought recreational boating to the masses.
Chris-Craft continued to build wooden boats through the depression, World War II, all the way up until 1971. By that time, Chris-Craft began producing metal and fiberglass boats.
Chris-Craft was an independent company until 1960, when it was acquired by Shields & Company and National Automotive Fibers in 1960. They renamed the company Chris-Craft Industries, Incorporated. In 1968, the Baldwin-Montrose Chemical Co., Inc. took a controlling interest in the company.
The energy crisis of the early 1970's hit the recreational boating industry hard, and by the mid 1970's the Chris-Craft boat division was losing money. The losses prompted the Chris-Craft Industries chairman Herb Siegel to begin a search for someone to turn-around the boating division. In 1978, Richard “Dick” Genth of Wellcraft was chosen for the job.
Dick Genth Dick Genth was a well known and respected person in the boating industry – a former Flying Tiger who had been an Air Force test pilot and offshore powerboat racer. Dick was a larger-than-life character. Ernest J Schmidt says of Dick, “The one thing I can say, it was a pleasure to work with Dick, as there was never a dull day.” According to Bill Westley (who's father's company, Westley Industries, was bought by Chris-Craft Industries in the 1970s) Dick was a “real force” in the industry, and person with a “lot of flair”.
Ernest J, Schmidt Dick left Wellcraft in 1978 to rebuild Chris-Craft. Shortly after taking the job at Chris-Craft, Dick contacted Ernest J Schmidt, then Vice President of Sales at Hammond Boat Company, and offered him a position at Chris-Craft. Ernest recalled of the offer: “(Chris-Craft) being the most well known name in the industry the temptation was simply too great and I left Hammond in January of 1979, and moved to Florida to work with Dick in rebuilding Chris-Craft.”
As president of both Thunderbird Products/Formula and Wellcraft boat companies at one time, Dick led both to profitability. At Chris-Craft, Dick made major changes to bring the company back to profitability. He overhauled product lines, consolidated model production at various plants, sold excess inventory, and shut down non-profitable boat lines. Within 6 months of Dick starting, the Chris-Craft boating division produced a profit. Dick was so good at what he did, Powerboat magazine considered him "the Lee Iacocca of the marine industry".1
Dick and his daughter Kathy (image courtesy of Todd Cimino) While turning around Chris-Craft, in 1978 Dick Genth and Director of Engineering Don Westerman introduced a whole new line of sport boats – the Scorpions. The Scorpions were developed at Chris-Craft's Pompano Beach facility. Originally three models were created – the 210, 230 and 260 SL. The Scorpion 260 SL was the first Chris-Craft boat to adopt the design style of high-performance, offshore, “cigarette” style racing boats. A new production facility was built by Chris-Craft in Bradenton, Florida with the sole purpose of expanding the new sport boat series. These new models were introduced by Chris-Craft at a dealer meeting at the Sarasota Hyatt House in July, 1979.
Greg Boyko tells the following story regarding how the Scorpion name came to be used for the new line of boats:
Chris-Craft found scorpions in the buildings in Bradenton, FL when they were first getting set-up - someone made a bunch of paperweights (scorpions set in casting resin) out of them - that's how the line got it's name.
By 1980, Dick Genth had turned around the Chris-Craft boating division. He now convinced Chris-Craft Industries to sell off the boating division. A search began for potential buyers – in 1981 that buyer was found – George Dale Murray. Mr Murray, along with Dick Genth, F. Lee Bailey, and Walt Schumacher, bought 95% of the boat division from Chris-Craft Industries on December 4th, 1981 for $5 million dollars2. The new company was known as Murray Chris-Craft.
An orphan, Murray had grown up in North Carolina. Murray had made his millions buying coal mines in Kentucky and bringing them back to profitability. Murray was looking for something new to do when Dick Genth approached him about buying Chris-Craft. Murray took the opportunity and bought Chris-Craft with Genth.
At this time Chris-Craft was one of the premier brands of boats. Murray and Genth were able to bring on celebrities to the board of Chris-Craft including Alexander Haig and Ed McMahon.3 Under Murray's stewardship, and with a strengthening economy, Chris-Craft was growing fast.
As soon as Dick Genth was brought in to turn around Chris-Craft in 1978, he started to look for ways to broaden the model line. With his offshore racing experience, he looked to start a new line of high-performance, deep-v boats. By November 26, 1978, Chris-Craft had entered into an agreement with Excalibur Marine Corporation to build two versions of the Excalibur 31 and one version of the Excalibur 384.
The origin of the Excalibur hulls begins with Jean-Claude Simon. Around 1973, Jean-Claude Simon, a former Ferrari racer, sold his home in France and moved to Miami where he bought the Cary Boat Company. Jean-Claude began to build boats based on deep-v fiberglass hulls and race them. The Cary Boat Company had 26', 27', 29' and 31' deep-v hulls. The 31' hull had an increased freeboard for better handling in rough seas.
In the late 1970s, Jean-Claude was approached by Bill Farmer, owner of Excalibur Marine Corporation. Bill wanted to use Jean-Claude's 31' hull, so he struck a deal to pay a royalty (about $1,000) to Jean-Claude for each hull "popped" from the 31' mould.
By the time Dick Genth contacted Bill Farmer in 1978, Excalibur Marine Corporation was having money problems. A deal with Chris-Craft would provide Excalibur with the money it needed to continue to produce boats. But before a deal could be worked out, Bill needed to resolve the issue of royalties being paid to Jean-Claude. Bill and Dick approached Jean-Claude and offered to pay him a lump sum to buy the 31' mould outright. Jean-Claude agreed to sell the mould to Chris-Craft with the caveat that he be listed as hull designer on each Chris-Craft boat based on the 31' hull.
Excalibur by Chris-Craft With the issue of royalties being paid to Jean-Claude Simon resolved, Dick and Bill came to an agreement for Chris-Craft to build boats based on Excalibur hulls. The boats would be marketed by Chris-Craft as “Excalibur by Chris-Craft”. Chris-Craft would build two 31' foot models – a deep-v I/O version, and a center-console outboard version. Additionally, Chris-Craft would also build a 38' deep-v I/O version.
At the 69th National Boat Show in January, 1979, a 31' Excalibur was on display at the Chris-Craft exhibit - one of five boats brought to the show by Chris-Craft. In addition, Chris-Craft lets it be known that it would be building a 38' version which it expected to enter into the offshore racing circuit.5
According to Bill Westley, the early Excaliburs were built at the Excalibur boat company plant, based on Excalibur moulds. They had no Stinger logos or names on them, but did have Chris-Craft badging. By 1980, the hull numbers on Excaliburs identified them as being produced by Chris-Craft. More significantly, the model code on the Excalibur boats was the same code that would eventually be used by the Stingers.
Excalibur US Navy Drone 'Meteor' An interesting story about the early Excaliburs comes from James Loeschen who worked on the production line for the Excaliburs. In 1979/1980, Chris-Craft received an order from a private contractor for 6 Excalibur 31's to be used as drones for the US Navy. James describes the Excalibur drones as such:
They were international orange gelcoat. decks, hulls cockpit liners, hatches, etc.. Everything forward of the cockpit was filled with flotation foam. There was a cockpit cover custom molded and it had 2 large flat hatches bolted down on it for access to the cockpit for the controls so it could be manually driven and so the electronics for the remote controls could be added on after we delivered them to the contractor. There was a water activated strobe light on the deck at the very bow. Also, I designed a steel frame that attached to the hull stringers and extended out the top of the boat fore and aft on center. It was about 5 or 6 feet long and had 2 bars with dividers at the top to create several openings in the frame where a big hook from the ship could hook on and lift the drone out of the water and set it on the deck of the ship for repairs and recycling of the drone when possible. So, if the drone was hit, the engines weighed down the stern and the flotation foam floated the bow so it would bob like a buoy with the strobe flashing so the USN ship could locate it after it was hit.
1980 Stinger 312 hull number 008 In 1979, Chris-Craft was producing a line of small sportboats called Scorpions. The Scorpions were still being built in 1981 when Dick Genth looked to expand the line. Chris-Craft had the Excaliburs, but a decision was made to replace the Excalibur with a new model line called Stinger. The model line would include a 31' Stinger called the 312 SL and a 39' Stinger called the 390 X. Both of these were based off of the existing Excalibur moulds. A 26' model was also added. The 26' model was called the Stinger 260 SL and was built from the existing Scorpion 260 SL mould. The new Stinger line of boats had lower deck profiles and better performance than the Scorpions. They were the top-of-the line offshore power boats produced by Murray Chris-Craft. And, as agreed to by Dick Genth, the brochures for the new Stingers included a credit to Jean-Claude Simon as designer of the hulls.
Production began in 1981 on the new line of high-performance sport boats that bore the Stinger name. According to Ernest J Schmidt, the Stinger name was a play on the Scorpion name:
Where did the idea of the Stinger come from? Best I can recall, it was probably my idea (not to actually take license for it though). When we began to market the 312, and to develop the 390 we were producing some of our models called the Scorpion. We were discussing what model designation to use for what was to be recognized as our performance models (to compete against Wellcraft's popular Scarab models). I suggested to Dick that since we had a Scorpion series, what better than a Stinger model. Think about it, what does a Scorpion have that is so deadly..........a Stinger! Hence, the Stingers were born.
James Loeschen recalls the following regarding the introduction of the Stingers:
'Stingers' were a marketing tool to expand the Scorpion series and were introduced after I left in June or July of 1980 for the '81 model year. They had special upholstery and graphics packages and probably more engine options and a fancier dashboard.
Greg Boyko relates the following about the Stingers:
Once Dick Genth had taken charge, was able to add "bling" to the line – when Chris-Craft took the new product to the boat shows it had "pop" to it - immediately at the dealer meeting they sold a lot of product (I heard a figure of $44M) – the Stinger line was very "finished" so they could compete with the other companies.
By 1982, Chris-Craft was displaying the Stingers at boat shows. In May of 1982, Chris-Craft displayed a Stinger 312 at the SCMA/Sea World Boat Show in Perez, California. At 60MPH, the 312 was the fastest Chris-Craft at display in the show.6
According to Bill Westley, the early runs of Stingers built from the moulds were “under-glassed”. The Coast Guard received complaints about the boats and decided to investigate. Dick Genth gave the order to max out the glass in the Stingers in preparation for the Coast Guard inspection. Bill had one of the first, if not the first, Stinger that had been built with more glass, and says the boat was “built like a tank” and consequently it was “not much for speed”.
Many people in the boating industry had a hand in designing and building the Stingers. According to an ex-Murray Chris-Craft employee, Don Westermann was the original engineer that retooled the moulds. Roy Rogers did upholstery and some graphics starting in 1981. In 1983, Jim Douglas was brought in to design/style the entire sportboat line.
In 1983, interiors for the Stingers were completely restyled by Roy Rogers. The restyled cabin for the 390 X included wrap-around couches, two swivel chairs, a ceiling mounted mirror surrounded by rope lighting, and an enclosed head. Exterior changes were made as well which included fiberglass swim platforms and custom Imron paint. Some models were designated limited (LTD) models. Ernest J Schmidt says of the limited models: “Someone once asked what does the limited mean, and Dick Genth's reply was, 'it means these models are limited to the number we can produce'”.
In 1984, Chris-Craft introduced their "Competition Series" option for 312 SL and 390 X Stingers. This option included state of the art coring materials, custom resins, and an intricate vacuum bagging lamination process. This produced lighter and stiffer boats. Eventually, the "Competition Series" option was dropped and the process was incorporated into the 390 X Stingers from 1986 onward.
Chris-Craft, under the leadership of Ernest J Schmidt, began a redesign of the Stingers in 1985. The redesign for the 260 and 312 Stingers included raising the deck profile and transom height, new dashboards with VDO gauges, increased headroom in the cabin, and a new curved, tempered glass windshields. Roy Rogers was again responsible for the new interiors.
Emerson Fittipaldi in his Stinger In 1987, a special version of the Stinger 312 was produced – the Fittipaldi Equipe – named for Emerson Fittipalidi, the famous Formula 1 and Indy Car driver. According to HotBoat magazine:
Fittipaldi took up Chris-Craft's line of high-performance boats while at his house in Miami Beach. He ordered a red 31' Chris-Craft Stinger, blacked-out all of the hardware on the boat, and dressed it in an all-white, leather-laden cockpit. Fittipaldi's neighbors were so taken with the stock MerCruisier powered offshore craft that Chris-Craft christened a special-edition line based on Fittipaldi's custom cruiser.
The Fittipaldi featured an all red paint job, white interior, anodized-blacked out hardware, special plaques, and high-performance Kiekhaefer controls and K-planes. Options included a Fittipaldi steering wheel, VDO Blue-Line gauges, choice of power and a custom owner's plaque. In 1989, a Fittipaldi Special Edition version of the Stinger 334 was also produced.
The 1988 model line saw a more radically re-styled line of Stingers. This restyling was led by Jim Douglas. These redesigned Stingers sported a curved, windowless, wrap-around windshield, integrated swim platforms, and furnished interiors. These Stingers were some of the last built, and included the 334, 375, 385 and 415 models.
Stingers Go Racing
During the 1980's, Murray Chris-Craft began its racing program, entering various boats in races. Experience gained from these races went back into the production of the sport boat lines, including the Stingers.
A Stinger 312 in Bob Nordskog's Golden Gate
to Spruce Goose Chase. (Photo courtesy
of Powerboat Magazine) In 1984, Dick Genth entered a Stinger 312 in Bob Nordskog's Golden Gate to Spruce Goose Chase. Dick, Ernest J Schmidt, and John McCoy piloted the boat while Chuck Woolery (an American game show host) rode as a passenger. The race took place during two days (May 12-13) over a course of 425 miles. Six other factory boats were entered in the race: Baja, Cigarette, Cobalt, Formula, Fountain (built off the the same Excalibur moulds as the Stingers) and Wellcraft. All boats were fitted with identically prepared Mercruiser 370s. Although heavy seas and fog dominated the race, the Stinger won the race by a margin of 50 minutes.
Bill Westley tells the following story about the Golden Gate to Spruce Goose Chase:
In preparation for the Spruce Goose Race, all of the engines in the competing boats were sealed to make sure no modifications were made to them before the race. Dick Genth was determined to win the race, however. The rumor was, Dick had the seals melted off of the engines on his Stinger, hopped up the engines, and re-applied the seals. In addition, the boat was built ultra-light – it was a “Ringer”. With these modifications (and the fact that Reggie Fountain got lost), the Stinger went on to win the race.
Jean-Claude Simon tells a different story about this race:
The engines for the Stinger were stock Mercruiser engines. Those engines were pulled off of the Mercuiser trailer and installed directly into the boat. The boat may have been built from "mould resin" to strengthen the hull as the seas are usually choppy in that area. After the race was won, Dick Genth called to say that the 31' hull was "one fast hull!"
Ernest J Schmidt recalls:
Regarding the engines - Mercury Marine, the supplier of the engines, had a public drawing in their booth at the New York Boat Show for engine serial numbers. Each boat company drew two serial numbers out of a hat, and those were the engines shipped to the boat company for installation in their boat for the race. The engines were sealed by Mercury, and then re-inspected in San Francisco just before the race. Our engines were not altered, and truth be known, we were not the fastest boat in the race. We used the 312 Stinger for the race rather than the 390, figuring the 390 would simply be too heavy and too slow to have a chance of winning.
We started the race in the thickest fog I have ever seen, and the wind was blowing about 30 mph (we damn near hit the Golden Gate Bridge at the start simply because we couldn't see it, and it only got worse from there). The only navigation we had on board was a compass and 2-3 charts, and as soon as we got out of the harbor into the Pacific we stuffed the boat, rolled the compass, and from there on did not know whether to trust it or not. To make a long story short, we simply relied on dead reckoning and found our way down to Monterrey Bay, the overnight stop. All of the other boats with their radar (remember, this was before GPS) got lost, couldn't find the check boat at Monterrey Bay (a 91' Coast Guard Cutter) and wound up an hour behind us.
In addition to racing Stingers, Chris-Craft also raced their Chris Cat line of high speed catamarans. In 1984 Chris-Craft sponsered the Miss Liberty Challenge Cup - a race which attempted to set a speed record on the Hudson River while raising money for repairing the Statue of Liberty. Chris-Craft's entry was a Chris Cat named Spirit of Miss Liberty and was driven by Betty Cook, a famous offshore powerboat driver. Co-driver for the boat was Kathy Genth - Dick Genth's daughter. 7 To prepare for the race, Kathy Genth raced Stinger 390s off of the Florida coast.8
Stingers in Popular Culture
The Stingers were a popular line of boats for Murray Chris-Craft. Entire model-year production would sometimes be sold out on announcement for a particular model. As they became more popular, the Stinger began showing up in other places as well. Probably the best known placement of the Stingers was in the Miami Vice television series. Five 390 X Stingers in total were used in the filming of the show. The pilot episode featured a white 1983 390 X. Four 390 Xs were used in season 1 of the show - three were 1984 390 Xs and the fourth was a 1985 390 X delivered sometime after September of 1984. Ernest J Schidt recalls how the Stingers ended up on the show:
As I remember the Miami Vice story, they had called us to tell us the script they were working on, and to request that we furnish boats (390 X) for the show. At the time, Don Johnson was a relative unknown, and we really weren't too sure of the script. As I recall, we sold them the Chris-Crafts they used that first year at cost. After the first year they approached both Chris-Craft and Wellcraft about the use of boats for the continuing series. I don't recall the process (I think Dick Genth was involved in the negotiations ), but for whatever reason they wound up going with Wellcraft, and of course it turned out being the most popular show on television at the time.
Todd Cimino, marine director for Miami Vice, recalls the following about the Stingers:
There were a total of 5 390 Chris-Craft Stingers. The white one was used for the pilot. Michael Mann Productions paid for its use as there was no deal with Chris-Craft at that time. The main reason for the white boat was that producer John Nicolella wanted a variety of night scenes - some of which became prolific as we all know.
The other four Stingers were the 39’s with the three tone blue stripes. Chris-Craft showed my boss, Moby Griffin, a series of color schemes, suggesting a black, orange and red scheme over all the others. One of the rules that was imposed through the cinematographer, colorist and Michael Mann himself was that the color “red” was not to appear in the show…ever. This was obviously broke a few times but this idea that red was counter to the theme was a revolutionary idea. At the bottom of the stack of paint schemes was the blue one that was picked. It was perfect. Three boats were ordered in a comp arrangement with Chris-Craft and Michael Mann Productions. During the filming of episode 8, "The Great McCarthy" one of the boats was damaged and replaced with the fourth blue boat - this one came with a swim platform. At first Moby wanted to remove it but then thought differently with the idea that - since the third boat was to be more of a support vessel, the platform might come in handy.
Contrary to popular belief the Chris-Crafts were never “free.” Actually there were some serious warranty items with the damaged boat - bad stringers, etc. This was one of the mitigating factors that edged the production to go with Wellcraft for seasons two on. Two Scarabs were provided by Wellcraft as part of a “product placement” scheme. In total six boats were rotated through (might have been 7) before the final season. The Scarabs were faster, better performing and better on camera. The paint scheme was designed especially for the show with Michael Mann Productions set designers drafting renderings. If I recall, there were at least a dozen options.
In addition to Miami Vice, the Stingers showed up in other places as well. A 312 Stinger Fittipaldi version was featured in the movie Tequila Sunrise, where it sadly gets blown up in the end.
In a case of the real-world mimicing art, the US Customs Department ordered 1987 Chris-Craft Stinger 390 Xs for drug running interdiction operations in south Florida. These Stingers were equipped with voice privacy radios and transponders, blue flashing lights, loud speakers and powerful spotlights.
The End of Chris-Craft
By the late 1980's, marine engine manufacturers began purchasing recreational boating companies. Mercury Marine bought Bayline Marine Corporation and Sea Ray Industries. The Outboard Marine Company (OMC) purchased Four Winns, Sunbird Boat Company, and Stratos Boat Company. By the end of the acquisitions, Murray Chris-Craft was left as the largest independent boat manufacturer.
Murray, realizing that he did not have the money to compete with Mercury Marine or Outboard Marine Company (OMC), looked for a partner the could provide needed capital for expansion. In 1987, Murray sold nearly half the stock of the company to a wealthy Saudi-Arabian, Dr Gaith Pharon. The cash infusion was not enough to save Murray Chris-Craft. On Monday, December 12th, 1988, Murray Chris-Craft filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection9. In January, 1989, Murray notified 70 workers at the Holland Township plant in Michigan that Murray Chris-Craft would be closed on January 27, 1989.
There are many reasons cited for why Murray Chris-Craft ran out of money. In the late 1980s, the US economy went into a recession which hurt the boating industry as a whole. Additionally, Murray Chris-Craft's purchase of Uniflite caused problems for the company which had produced boats with resin that blistered. Angry boat owners sued the company for millions.10 Finally, there were allegations that Murray himself mis-spent company money.
After Murray Chris-Craft went into bancruptcy, Murray tentatively accepted a $15M offer from Genmar Industries11. The court in charge of the bankruptcy proceedings, however, put Murray Chris-Craft up for auction. Genmar Industries and Outboard Marine Company put in multiple bids for the company. Finally, on February 4th, 1989, Murray Chris-Craft was sold to Outboard Marine Company with a winning bid of $58M.
At the time of the final sale, Murray Chris-Craft had 1600 workers, $82M in assets and $75.8M in debt12. OMC acquired Chris-Craft's plants in Bradenton, Florida, Swansboro, North Carolina and Goshen, Indiana. OMC also acquired tooling, moulds and raw materials from Chris-Craft, as well as the right to build Chris-Craft boats13. In June of 1989, Tollycraft Yachts Corp bought the Chris-Craft plant (former Uniflite facility) in Bellingham, Washington14.
The Stinger line of boats were produced from 1982-1989. There were many models built over the years, ranging in lengths from 20' to 41', with cuddy cabins or center consoles. The last Stingers were built in 1989 under OMC ownership.
Although the Stingers have been out of production since 1989, they still show up in unexpected places. Between 2006-2007, the now defunct website TicTrip.com sponsered eBay auctions for what it claimed was one of the original Stingers used in Miami Vice. The listing price was $75,000. The boat was supposedly 100% restored. There is no information on what happened to the boat.
On July 26, 2009, The History Channel featured an episode of Pawn Stars titled "Sink or Sell" that featured a 1984 Chris-Craft Stinger 260SL. After negotiations with the owner, the pawn shop bought the boat for $16,500. The episode shows the negotiations for buying the boat, discussions of its worth, and sea trials.
- 1981 F Lee Bailey introduces G Dale Murray to Dick Genth, president of Chris-Craft (“G. Dale Murray”, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 5/13/1985, page 1)
- 1981 Chris-Craft bought by Murray & Genth for $5M (“Genth and Chris-Craft?”, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 12/12/1988, page 3)
- 1981 Chris-Craft 1981 sales were $25M (“Genth and Chris-Craft?”, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 12/12/1988, page 3)
- 1982 Stinger 260, 312, and 390 debut
- 1982 Chris-Craft buys Viking Boat Company – Goshen, IN plant
- 1982 sales quadruple to $95M ("We Stole It", Forbes, 11/21/1983, page 326)
- 1983 Holland plant employed 600 (“Holland loses Chris-Craft Plant”, Ludington Daily News, 1/20/1989, pg 8)
- 9/1983 Chris-Craft buys Uniflite Inc for $6.4M – Bellingham, WA and Swansboro, NC plants added (“Murray Industries To Acquire Manufacturer of Large Boats”, Sarasota-Herald Tribune, 9/7/1983, page 6B)
- 9/1983 Chris-Craft displays 18 models at the Chicago National Marine Manufacturers Association International Marine Trades Exhibit including the 390X and 312 Stingers. (Chris-Craft 1983 Media Kit)
- 9/1983 Chris-Craft pays $25,000 to enter the Powerboat Magazine's Golden Gate to Spruce Goose Chase to be held in May 1984. (Chris-Craft 1983 Media Kit)
- 1984 Murray buys out Genth, acquiring 90% of Chris-Craft Stock. Genth left over disagreement “on the direction the company should take” according to Murray (“G. Dale Murray”, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 5/13/1985, page 1)
- 1984 Stinger 230, 314 debut
- 1984 Chris-Craft 1984 sales were $163M (“Genth and Chris-Craft?”, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 12/12/1988, page 3)
- 5/1984 - A Chris-Craft Stinger 312 wins Powerboat Magazine's Golden Gate to Spruce Goose Chase.
- 1985 Chris-Craft dealership network numbers 200 (up from 40 when bought by Murray and Genth) (“G. Dale Murray”, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 5/13/1985, page 1)
- 1985 Chris-Craft has more than 2000 employees (“G. Dale Murray”, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 5/13/1985, page 1)
- 1985 Sales of $175M (“Eaton Park to get Boat Plant”, Lakeland Ledger, 7/22/1985)
- 1986 Bruce Donaldson named president of Chris-Craft ("Donaldson Named to Position at Wellcraft Marine", Sarasota Herald Tribune, 3/4/1989, page 1D)
- 1986 Stinger 222 debut
- 1987 Stinger 202, 415 debut
- 1987 Ghaith Rashad Pharaon reportedly pays $15M - $20M for a 44% share of Chris-Craft. (“Key Figure Owns Gulf Coast Firm”, Sarasota-Herald Tribute, 8/10/1991, page 1D)
- 1987 Emerson Fittipaldi designs/endorses the Fittipaldi Equipe 312 Stinger” (“Hydroplane Racing has Indy 500 Connections”, The Madison Courier, 5/23/1987
- 1988 Stinger 311, 313, 312 Fittipaldi, and 375 debut
- 1988 Bruce Donaldson steps down as president of Chris-Craft ("Donaldson Named to Position at Wellcraft Marine", Sarasota Herald Tribune, 3/4/1989, page 1D)
- 8/1988 Murray continues to borrow from Pharaon and in return pledges stock. Pharaon ousts Murray and CEO Joel Schleicher from the company (“Key Figure Owns Gulf Coast Firm”, Sarasota-Herald Tribute, 8/10/1991, page 1D)
- 9/1988 Pharaon names Charles B Husick chairmain of Chris-Craft. (“New Chairman Takes Helm at Chris-Craft”, St Petersburg Times, 11/17/1988)
- 11/1988 Pharaon names Rene Herzog chairmain of Chris-Craft. (“New Chairman Takes Help at Chris-Craft”, St Petersburg Times, 11/17/1988)
- 12/1988 Dick Genth posssibly seen by two salesman at Chris-Craft (“Genth and Chris-Craft?”, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 12/12/1988, page 3)
- 12/9/1988 Chris-Craft files for bankruptcy
- 1988 $140M in sales, lost $21M (“Two Bidders Up Ante for Chris-Craft”, St Petersburg Times, 1/27/1989)
- 1989 Stinger 334, 334 Fittipaldi, and 385 debut
- 1989 ~1200 workers left (eventually 320 rehired by OHC) (“Helping the Workers Part of the Cleanup”, Sarasota-Herald Tribune, 3/29/1990, page 1D)
- 12/1989 Holland plant had 70 workers left
- 1990 EPA cleanup of Holland plant, due to chemical spill, estimated at $1.5M (“Murray Reorganization Plan”, Sarasota-Herald Tribune, 1/17/1990, page 8D)
- 1990 – Holland plant has leaky roof and needs improved heating system (“Ex-Employees Try to Salvage Murray Chris-Craft”, Sarasota-Herald Tribune, 3/29/1990, page 1D)
- 3/1990 – Tollycraft buys Bellingham, WA plant (“Ex-Employees Try to Salvage Murray Chris-Craft”, Sarasota-Herald Tribune, 3/29/1990, page 1D)
- 3/1990 There are 150 Legal Claims against the company (“Ex-Employees Try to Salvage Murray Chris-Craft”, Sarasota-Herald Tribune, 3/29/1990, page 1D)
- 4/2002 Dick Genth dies (“Luxury Boat Builder Richard Genth Dies”, St Petersburg Times, 4/5/2002)
1 "A Scorpion with Some Sting", Powerboat
Magazine Performance Reports, 1983
2 "We Stole It", Forbes, November 21, 1983, page 326
3 "Chris-Craft's Dishonored Captain", St Petersburg Times, 20th February 1989
4 "Chris-Craft Excalibur Entering Licensing Pact", Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 26th November 1978, page 5C
5 "Speed Record Attempt to Benefit Miss Liberty", Schenectady Gazette, 28th August, 1982 6 "12 Chris Crafts Set for Boat Show", Los Angeles Times, 20th March, 1984 7 "Bouncing Over the Gulf to Island Hideaway", Boston Globe, 27th May, 1984 8 "69th Boat Show Sails Into City Tomorrow", New York Times, 12th January 1979
9 "COMPANY NEWS; Murray Chris-Craft Chapter 11 Filing", New York Times, 21st December 1988
10 "COMPANY NEWS; Murray Chris-Craft Will End Business", New York Times, 20th January 1989
11 "Chris-Craft's Dishonored Captain", St Petersburg Times, 20th February 1989
12 "Murray Industries underestimated debt", Wilmington Morning Star, 25th January 1989, page 4B
13 Wall Street Journal, 7th February 1989, page 1
14 Business Wire, 1st June 1989